Erotica (from the Greek "Eros"—"desire") or "curiosa," works of art, including literature, photography, film, sculpture and painting, that deal substantively with erotically stimulating or sexually arousing descriptions. "Erotica" is a modern word used to describe the portrayal of the
human anatomyand sexuality with high-art aspirations, differentiating such work from commercial pornography. [ [http://uk.encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761568395/Pornography.html Pornography - MSN Encarta ] ] "Curiosa" is generally used to refer to erotica and pornography as discrete, collectible items, usually in published or printed form.
Various sub-genres of erotica exist. As with fiction as a whole, there are erotic stories with a
science fiction, fantasy, horror or romance focus. Additionally, erotica can also focus on specific sexual behavior or fetishes such as BDSM, wearing uniforms, cross-dressing, polygamyand sexual promiscuity. Fan fictionfeaturing characters engaging in male homosexual acts has become known as slash fiction.
Erotica and pornography
The commonly used distinction between "erotica" and "pornography" is that sexually-explicit depictions in "erotica" must have an inherent artistic or literary merit, while those in "pornography" are intended solely in order to cause sexual arousal. While in principle this seems clear enough, in practice there is no easy way to define objectively artistic or literary merit and detect its presence or absence in a given work. Such definitions change from one society to another, from one period to another and often also from person to person. The issue came to prominence mainly through
obscenitycourt cases under the Comstock Laws in the US and their equivalents in other countries. In cases such as that of Henry Miller's "Tropic of Cancer", the decision whether a certain book constituted "erotica" or "pornography" was tantamount to the decision whether its publication and distribution would be permitted of forbidden. The answer was seen to depend ultimately on the esthetic judgement of individual judges and/or their cultural background.
Since the 1960's such laws, though not formally repealed, are less stringently enforced, and the issue - while far from moot - has become less heatedly debated. In general, there is a considerable number of works whose literary or artistic merit is not in serious doubt; there is, on the other hand, a considerable quantity of material - nowadays produced and distributed more or less freely - whose being pornography is not seriously doubted either; and there is a considerable number of in-betweens, whose attribution to one of the categories can be disputed, though such disputes are now usually settled out of court and through people's individual or collective esthetic sense.
History of erotic depictions
History of erotic photography
List of authors of erotic works
* [http://www.glbtq.com/literature/erotica_pornography.html "Erotica and Pornography"] by Edmund Miller, "glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture" (website), New England Publishing Associates, 2002.
* [http://www.aliceineroticland.it "Alice in EroticLand"] Erotica in Art and Photography
* [http://www.pepekanavis.com.ar "Pepe Kanavis"] Erotic and Digital Art
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